News24 and The Star fall short of being awarded a GLAD[1] for missing an opportunity to include a child’s voice in their articles titled, “Nine-year-old South African mental maths whizz wows in German competition” (News24, 29/09/2018) and “SA 9-year-old has world summed up”(The star, 26/09/2018, pg.4).

Both articles report on Stiaan Scheepers, a nine-year-old boy from Rustenburg who is reported to have come second in an international mental maths competition in Germany. The two articles highlight the child’s success and have a picture of him posing with his certificate and trophy.

Despite the articles being focussed on the child and portraying him positively, The Star interviews only the child’s teacher while News24 interviews the child’s mother and a CEO at a school where he is coached.

While it may be argued that News24 did interview the child as it is indicated at the end of the article where the child responds, “Very tired” when reportedly asked about “how he felt about his achievement”, MMA argues that this is not adequate. MMA is of the view that if media are going to report such stories which have a central focus on children, then the children must be extensively quoted so as to adequately give their perspectives.

By failing to access the child for his views and perspective, News24 and The Star directly violated his right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Articles 13 and 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[2] the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)[3] respectively.

Additionally, this failure also goes against best journalism practice when it comes to reporting on children as advised by MMA’s Ethical Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media.[4] The Guidelines advise journalists saying, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them”.

We encourage both News24 and The Star to continue to report on children, highlight and celebrate their achievements and talents and portray them as active agents and, find ways to include their voices in media coverage when it is in their best interest.

By Phakamile Khumalo


[1] A GLAD is an article where the rights and welfare of children have been protected



[4] (Page 3)